Prius Personal Log  #200

May 23, 2005  -  May 27, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 6/05/2005

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5-27-2005

Harmless.  I find it intriguing how many people don't think about what happens to that seemingly harmless clean water that comes out of the tailpipe of a fuel-cell vehicle.  It's not a vapor.  It's not a drip.  It's a trickling stream... which is enough to cause all the highways in the northern states to become ice staking rinks in the Winter.  Did you know that?  Here in Minnesota, we call the build-up of vapor that instantly freeze due to the extreme cold in the winter "Black Ice".  It's only a very thin layer, but it causes horrible traffic problems.  Imagine a layer of "Fuel-Cell Ice" from that trickle, an order of magnitude thicker coating our roads.  That "clean water" by-product creates an awful situation that not a single official endorsing fuel-cell has ever addressed.  Those vehicles have a number of serious problems to overcome still.  This is one that clearly should not be taken lightly.

5-26-2005

What was he thinking?  I really wish I would have had the opportunity to find out.  It was one of those at-the-barber discussions today.  There was a customer that absolutely insisted that my hybrid would be junk in just 3 to 4 years, due to the extreme corrosion that our environment causes.  I questioned him almost immediately, pointing out that the ABS sensor in most vehicles is nothing but a wire at the base of the tire.  Yet, it manages to survive for triple that duration.  That didn't phase him at all.  He persisted with his detail about how expensive a wiring-harness could be and that there's simply no way the wires could endure our salt, sand, and cold conditions here in Minnesota.  So naturally, I pointed out that there are Classic models which have already driven through 5 winters.  He didn't care.  It's as if he has some distinct picture in his head about what would happen.  I wish I could have got him to explain why he had such an impression.  Because in reality, there are no exposed wiring connections as he claimed.  My only guess is that he assumed the entire electric propulsion system was mounted at the base of each wheel... which couldn't be further from the truth.  But due to the fuel-cell prototypes, it is possible to believe that hybrids could be setup that way.  They aren't though.  Prius has that equipment well protected under the hood, at the top where the most that it would ever be exposed to is a rare drip.  But with all the computers in a traditional vehicle already, spread throughout the front, this should be a non-issue.  They have already proven to be quite robust.

5-26-2005

Diesel Again?  It's the same old story again; however, this one actually ends.  The supporters have simply run out of arguments.  Each time the heated discussions (arguments) began, the hybrid rebuttal became more refined.  But with the diesel info, it was the same stuff.  Nothing new on their part was the shortcoming... because "full" hybrids win every time anyway.  That's why the discussions fade off rather than allowing a conclusion to be drawn.  The engine-only diesel technology is a dead end.  There is simply no way to squeeze much more efficiency out, and no matter what you are always dependent on combustion.  But with a vehicle like Prius, that's not true.  Over time, it will grow increasingly more electric.  Years ago, that was very difficult to prove.  But now with the undeniable evident of the HSD model having a hidden "EV mode" and with a few people having very publicly taken advantage of that by demonstrating to the media that it could easily be enhanced with additional battery capacity, it's obvious.  So the focus on emission ratings and fuel created from corn & soy isn't even necessary.  All you have to do is ask about the future.  It is very easy to see how diesel has reached an apex, where not much more can be expected from it.  "Full" hybrids on the other hand are completely different; they are only beginning to demonstrate the potential they have.  It's their ability to taken advantage of electricity that will convince people that diesel alone isn't enough.

5-26-2005

Spotted Many.  It was great!  As I drove by a parking lot, I spotted a Prius.  Just a few feet from it was another.  Then next to that one, there was another.  And wouldn't you know it, yet another Prius appeared in view at that very moment.  It just happened to drive by as I was spotting those other 3.  That's 4 at almost exactly the same time.  Cool.

5-26-2005

Humidity Boost.  Yesterday's very moist, but no rain, drive to work sure provided an unexpected boost.  I was running late, so I took the highway route.  It's definitely faster, but the penalty is the speed hurts efficiency... normally.  I started at 55.4 MPG.  I expected to end up close to that at the conclusion of the drive, since it end with a long downhill run.  But instead, it never dropped while I was flying along the highway.  The humidity was so high that the engine was totally loving the improved combustion as a result of the moisture expansion from the super-heated air.  Anywho, the Multi-Display showed a very pleasing 55.8 MPG when I finally arrived at my parking spot.  How about that?  Today's drive certainly wasn't as good.  I had time so I took the suburb route instead.  That only involves a brief drive on a highway.  Most of it though is in the 30 to 45 MPH range... which is usually better.  But this morning, I went from 55.0 MPG to only 55.2 MPG.  Bummer.  The very dry air made a huge difference.  Of course, that's nothing to complain about either.  Even last night's not-so-efficient city driving didn't drop the overall MPG that much.

5-25-2005

$50.98 per barrel.  The price of oil had been holding below the $50 mark for awhile.  I knew it would suddenly climb right before the holiday.  This isn't rocket-science.  It's simply recognizing the annual pattern of supply verses demand.  And sure enough, the price shot up today.

5-25-2005

Yawn.  That was a reply to the newest hybrid thread on that big Escape forum.  Their efforts to undermine have become blatant.  I find it captivating.  It makes me wonder what the heck do people find interesting about gas-only vehicles?  It's hard to believe there so many that just go on and on and on about essentially nothing.  Those SUVs have been around for years and the engine technology for decades.  What would possess a  person to discussion so much about so little?  "Full" hybrids though are clearly breaking new ground, invoking discussions about topics that have never been talked about before... like the Planetary-CVT, the Multi-Display, and Stealth.  Having something entirely new to discuss makes sense, especially when it is briefly brought up by the media on a very regular basis.  No wonder that guy left.  He even got tired of the same old nonsense.  Who knows... perhaps he became so intrigued by the hybrid technology he was fighting that he actually became compelled to try it out for himself.  Now that's nothing to yawn about!  I'd find that turn of events very exciting to discuss!!

5-25-2005

Niche Product.  Don't you love how desperate some reporters have become that they feel compelled to write this, "It�s a niche product with a quirky image that�s enjoying temporary success due to its limited supply. The Accord, Civic, Escape and the new Lexus RX400h will dwarf the sales of Prius in the near future because they are mainstream. Far more gallons of gas will be saved from these ho-hum models, then their weird cousin, the Prius."  I sure am going to have fun years later rereading those articles.  (I save a copy of each one that I quote from.)  When will reporters finally admit that hatchbacks were once popular and now they are again increasing in popularity?  Since when is 100,000 per year considered a limited supply?  And how exactly is a less efficient mainstream hybrid going to save more gas than a Prius (which offers better aerodynamics and requires less weight to support the hybrid system)?  Accord-Hybrid is not in competition at all with Prius.  It's significantly more expensive and no where near as efficient.  Civic-Hybrid sales have never been impressive.  There are no long waiting lists. In fact, many purchases are the direct result of not wanting to wait so long for delivery of a Prius.  Escape-Hybrid expectations are unknown. I have no basis to form a judgment with.  So I have no idea how "mainstream" can be the sole indicator of success over Prius, especially since the gas-only Escape wasn't a top seller anyway.  RX400h is very a Lexus, a luxury vehicle, not mainstream.  Enough said.  Highlander-Hybrid was not mentioned.  I wonder why?  That quite likely could be an impressive marketshare-stealer.  But then again, that's from other SUVs, not cars.  Of course, the silly argument is how he says the sales of all 4 other hybrids combined will dwarf Prius sales.  Isn't that interesting how just 1 model alone can't compete?  Hmm.  What do reporters say later when a "niche" product eventually becomes a standard vehicle?  After all, that is how both the Minivan and SUV started acceptance into the mainstream.

5-25-2005

"Gas-Only"  That is rapidly becoming a standard term.  I've read that "gas-only" reference in quite a number of articles and posts recently.  For me, the term "traditional" has fit the need for years now... due to lack of any widely accepted identifier.  Using "non-hybrid" encouraged the misconception that all hybrids were created equally, so I avoided using it too much.  I've toyed with "engine-only".  But I find it amusing how this new one puts a twist of spite toward diesel by simply not even acknowledging it.  Now I know some are going to blame me for getting "gas-only" to stick.  But honestly, I had nothing to do with this one.  It's just an observation about how recent oil & gas price spikes have increased hybrid discussions resulting in the emergence of this new term.  Really.  Oh well.  When the first diesel-hybrid becomes available, the "diesel-only" supporters won't be too happy anyway.

5-25-2005

The Same Fate.  Have you noticed the parallels between the fuel-cell hype now and what happen over a decade ago with electric vehicles?  Some are declaring the technology a huge success before the entire market has had a chance to respond yet.  We all know that the prototypes demonstrate ample potential.  But none of the usual factors, which have nothing to do with the technology itself, have had a chance to influence those first rollout trials... like competition & politics.  Those ugly realities have a significant affect, but they aren't being taken into account at all.  So how can people possibly know the ultimate fate of it before that?  Simple.  Look for a parallel to the past.  Remember that saying... If you don't learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.  All the hype follows that pattern perfectly.  It is clearly a repetition of the same old story.  They haven't learned!

5-25-2005

Barely Notice.  I found this published statement today rather interesting... "Honda Accord-Hybrid is a very discreet car. From the exterior, you can barely notice a difference".  Reviewers always mocked the look of Classic Prius, never taking into consideration how it would blend into the crowd later on.  Their focus was very much on today, rather than the entire lifetime of the vehicle.  Well, guess what.  The Classic model now blends in pretty well now.  Their are a number of new vehicles that share some of the shapes it already had quite a few years ago.  In other words, it was ahead of its time.  Sound familiar?  How many future vehicles to you think will take on the attributes of the HSD Prius styling?  I bet there will be a number of them.

5-24-2005

Feel or Actual.  Though there aren't many, there certainly are a steady stream of people interested in putting 17-inch wheels on their Prius.  Why?  Those that have claim the car handling feels much better... which may be true; however, feel has absolutely nothing to do with actual performance.  The CVT has proven that countless times already.  It gives you the impression of being sluggish, due to it being so smoooooth.  But when you look at the speedometer, you realize you are actually going quite a bit faster than you thought.  Not a single person has ever done comparative measurements to proof there really is an improvement. 
And they should.  Real-World data definitely contradicts their claims.  Smaller wheels are used on both bicycles & in-line skates when maneuverability improvements are required.  Larger wheels are only recommended for long-distance, steady-pace cruising.  Even the Classic Prius helps to support that.  So I just plain don't believe there is an actual improvement; I think it only feels that way.

5-23-2005

Principles.  The political discussions are really hot now that the current legislative session is struggling to conclude on time.  Some representatives are saying things to please the constituents rather than just sticking to their principles.  That's sad.  It does make them look good though.  (Fortunately, the local public radio is doing their best to point out when that occurs.)  So, I guess I shouldn't feel bad about bad when someone accuses me of not just going with the flow.  As you could imagine, I do get grief for talking out against the hybrids that don't provide much (or any) improvement.  In other words, I'm sticking to my principles.  I know the need requires us to significantly reduce emissions & consumption.  So if an automaker pretends to do that, but really doesn't, I'm not going to endorse them.

5-23-2005

It Continues.  Both the traditional & hybrid Accord get the same emission rating: ULEV.  So associating the hybrid with the word "green" is a good example of "greenwashing", where you are lead to believe it ranks among the truly clean vehicles.  But in reality, it doesn't.  All that is really does is reduce CO2, as a direct result of the improved efficiency.  There is no attempt to actually improve smog-related emissions (NOx, HC, CO), though you'd never realize that without a proper identifier like SULEV.  It's really irritating how some people are being mislead by the old "vague" technique.  The use of the emission rating label SULEV (and AT-PZEV) easily solves that.  So help out by using that when you can.  Don't allow them to use "green" or "clean" without any type of quantification... especially when it comes to the topic of deductions & credits.  Rewards should be based on actual merit, not if an automaker just arbitrarily calls any vehicle using new technology a "hybrid".

 

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